Target’s Super Black Friday Ad Campaign

Kudos to Target and its Ad Agency Weiden + Kennedy for their spot on Black Friday advertising campaign featuring this overly excited and anxious shopping FANatic.

And, file this effort in my “Darn I Wish I Did This Ad Campaign” folder.

Target is using 5 spots from last year (why not – who says an old great campaign can’t be re-engaged?) combined with another 30 online.  And, he talent casting, honest copy, imagery, sound and smart campaign integration (see all 35 videos) off and online is simply brilliant and off the charts.

It’s a great example of how ad campaigns should be run. Read Adweek’s take on it here.

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BrandMill Helps 86 Breast Cancer

For nearly 10 years, we’ve been a supporter of the American Cancer Society and its mission of celebrating more birthdays throughout western Pennsylvania. We’ve participated as a Board Member, Marketing Committee Chairperson and general volunteer.

However, this year is shaping up to be one of our more meaningful, gratifying and fun years as we’ve helped the Pittsburgh Region (New East Central Region) more effectively promote its Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Event.

The NFL and locally the Pittsburgh Steelers are huge ‘Strides’ supporters. And a year ago, we proposed the idea of using popular (and future NFL Hall of Famer – if we had a vote) Steelers Hines Ward as an event spokesperson asking people to help, “86 Breast Cancer!” Note: The number 86 is Hines’ number. FYI – to “86 something” means to get rid of or eliminate.

Well, this year the Steelers and Hines agreed and helped the ACS air a unique Public Service announcement with Pittsburgh’s NBC affiliate WPXI-TV and news anchor Peggy Finnegan (a breast cancer survivor) to “86 Breast Cancer” which is what number 86 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is striving to do – and encouraging Pittsburghers to do!

Note: Hines and Peggy are joined in this first picture with American Cancer Society Regional Vice President Glenn Callihan.

Over and above the ’86 Breast Cancer” idea, we’ve supported the ACS brand as its Facebook marketing coach, initiated a sponsor meeting with the local Chevrolet Dealer Marketing Group of Pittsburgh (who raised nearly 15% of the total donations to date) and set up a television interview on Pittsburgh CBS affiliate KDKA-TV s Pittsburgh Today LIVE show.

Tim Colussy, Corina Diehl, Glenn Callihan, Kristine Sorensen

We’re always excited to work alongside brands to help them maximize all of the storytelling opportunities they have available to them and show them the way so they can even do it more effectively themselves. And, they are!

And as a result, I’m happy to report that the American Cancer Society’s 2nd annual Pittsburgh Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K Walk held on October 29, 2011 on Pittsburgh’s North Shore (just outside of Heinz Field) involved more than 3,000 walkers and helped raise nearly $300,000 – nearly twice the amount raised in 2010.

Participants included teams from Western Pennsylvania corporations, businesses and organizations that formed Making Strides teams, as well as participation from individuals, including breast cancer survivors, family members and friends.

Of course, the fight is not over yet! Donations will continue to be accepted in order to help the American Cancer Society reach their fundraising goal. Donations can still be made online at cancer.org/stridesonline or by calling 1.888.227.5445.

Proceeds from Making Strides Against Breast Cancer support the American Cancer Society’s life-saving breast cancer research, education, advocacy, patient services, and community partnership grants for women in Pittsburgh.

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Every Day Should Be Checklist Day

For the past few months, I’ve been reviewing our work processes to evaluate why, where and when we’ve hit our mark and missed.

Time and again, I’ve come to the conclusion that our processes would greatly improve with new, improved, and more checklists.

And, strict adherence to them.

We use checklists throughout our marketing engagements such as “Countdown-to-Go” checklists for new store, new product and new campaign launches, but sometimes we move too fast to please our clients and fail to either take the time to create or use a checklist. Simply put – to quote the old adage – “When we fail to plan, we plan to fail.” Simple as that!

We usually deliver high results, but with better processes the question is, “How high is up?”

How much better , faster, cheaper could we have executed a campaign if we flawlessly executed our plan leaving no stone unturned?

Well, today is National Checklist Day (sound the trumpets) and I’ve been preparing for it by reading Dr. Atul Gawande’s, The Checklist Manifesto.

Gawande makes a great case why even experts need checklists – the complexity and speed of things today make simple checklists necessary.

His belief is that the smarter we get, the more we take things for granted.  And, checklists can close these gaps in flawless execution.

Throughout his book he offers case after case examples with pilots, surgeons and a myriad of other professions.

We need checklists because we all communicate poorly. For example, the majority of us often make these three serious errors:

  • We leave out important information assuming that others know it
  • We’re not specific in our directions again assuming that others understand us
  • And, sometimes we fail to be clear and concise in our directions because we don’t want to insult others

Checklists can compensate for these failings.

Moreover, if you want to extend your intelligence and train others to do the right thing at the right time, you need checklists for everyone to follow – to keep everyone on the same page.

So, we’ve been working on detailed checklists for Website launches, email campaigns, public relations campaigns, creative briefs and more.

How about you? Do you use checklists in your profession? Are you sold on using them more frequently?

I’m sold once again. Check that!

P.S.: Here’s a checklist for checklists!

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Pittsburgh’s Priory Hotel New Wing Celebration

We love working on Grand Openings, Grand Re-Openings, New Product Launches and more!

Next to having your own baby, it’s got to be right up there in terms of great days if you love marketing and public relations like we do!

There’s just nothing like holding a special exciting event to kickoff a brand’s ‘NEW NEWS!”

And, it truly comes down to what YOU make of it.

Public Relations is an art that’s not practiced enough in our opinion for lots of reasons.

The biggest reason is because it’s hard work and most people don’t like to “bring it” and put the time in that’s necessary to do an exceptional job.

The second big reason is that the majority of brands are simply boring and adequate and have no interesting stories to tell.  What a shame.

We’re honored to work with lots of great brands such as our good friends at the Priory Hospitality Group.

And, when they asked us to help them kick off the grand opening of their new wing we jumped at the opportunity.

In the picture above, we had all of the key people responsible for getting the Priory Hotel’s new wing open for business such as co-owners and operators John and Suzanne Graf, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, key employees and the architect, builder and interior designer.

The $2.7 million expansion of The Priory added 17 rooms, a 70 percent expansion of the hotel’s capacity. Located in the Deutschtown section of the North Side, the hotel expanded into a building leveled by fire two years earlier.

This picture is a great representation of a Grand Opening done right.

We kept all of these key figures and media appraised of the opening event far in advance with our custom “Countdown to Go” grand opening list and started months ahead of the event to make sure we didn’t miss a detail and to ensure that our execution was flawless.

The result?

We achieved widespread media coverage in Pittsburgh’s major daily and community newspapers and all television networks.

And, as important, we earned the continued respect, endorsement and marketing partnership from the Priory and the Graf family.

Here’s a link to an online story from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

It appeared on the front page of the Local News Section of the paper and is just one of several pieces of media coverage we earned.

As you prepare for 2012, think about the meaningful stories you can share with your local media and customers.

If you don’t have any, get to work on some. If you do, start planning – well in advance – to show and tell them!

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Join BrandMill’s Bosom Buddies

Join our BrandMill Bosom Buddies Team and help us Make Strides Against Breast Cancer!

And, when you donate $50 or more to our BBB team, you can get a FREE limited edition T-Shirt with our team logo!

Click here to donate now!

Or help us save lives from breast cancer by joining the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K walk in Pittsburgh.

Here are the details:

Saturday, October, 29th at the North Shore Riverfront Park Great Lawn on the North Side.

Registration is at 8AM and the Walk starts at 9AM.

Hope to see you there!

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Why Southwest Airlines Keeps Rocking

I haven’t flown on an airline other than Southwest Airlines for some time and it will be a long time before I fly any other domestic airline if I can prevent it.

Unfortunately for me for an upcoming trip, Southwest’s schedule didn’t work out so I had to make my reservation with another airline.

Without mentioning names, here’s just one of the disclaimers I encountered booking my flight earlier today, “Any change to this reservation (including flight, dates, or cities) is subject to a $150.00 change fee per passenger.”

Unreal…$150 for a few simple keystrokes?

Don’t even get me started about charging me for a preferred aisle seat!

Southwest Airlines’ Simple, Clear and Meaningful Benefit Laden Value Proposition

I wrote sometime ago about ‘Why Southwest Rocks.’ At the time, I was complementing their simple, clear brand promise of ‘bags fly free.’

Now, what do you think Southwest is promoting in their latest ‘Southwest Makes the Call’ ad campaign?

Yes…‘no change fees.’

Southwest Airlines’ clear, simple, relevant and meaningful value-added messages of ‘bags fly free’ and ‘no change fees’ are a lesson for all brand marketers.

Does your brand communicate simple, clear, meaningful benefits like Southwest?

If so, I assure you your brand will soar.  If not, it will remain grounded or crash.

Hey Southwest I wish you clear, blue skies – you deserve it – and deserve my business.

Hope to fly you again soon!

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Colussy Chevrolet’s Place in Americana

Chevrolet will be kicking off a huge celebration in early November for its 100th Anniversary.

And, what many people do not know is Pittsburgh’s unique role in Chevrolet’s history courtesy of the Colussy family.

Check out this story by Teresa Lindeman which we earned for our newest client Colussy Chevrolet on the front page of today’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Business Section – Colussy Chevrolet, A Place in Americana.

Chevy Runs Deep In Pittsburgh, PA

Congratulations to brothers Tim and Jon Colussy who now lead the third generation ownership of Colussy Chevrolet in Bridgeville, PA for their well deserved recognition. Chevrolet’s oldest dealership in America is now in its 93rd year of operation since 1918.

It’s true when they say that Chevy runs deep. Chevy runs deep in Pittsburgh, PA and a little deeper in Bridgeville, PA.

P.S.: Here is the first Road We’re On’ video from NYC’s Mother ad agency in preparation for Chevrolet’s 100th anniversary.  It’s the first in a series and features Bridgeville, PA and Colussy Chevrolet.  Enjoy – it’s excellent.

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Thanks for Making a Dent in Our Universe

Our world lost a great man yesterday – Steve Jobs.

Jobs impacted my life in numerous ways through not only his great innovations and style, but also in his words.

Here’s my top 10 list of Steve Job quotes that have resonated with me over the years.

God bless you Steve and many thanks.  You’ll be missed.

Steve Jobs Top 10 Best Quotes

  1. “We’re here to put a dent in the universe, otherwise why else even be here?”
  2. “Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”
  3. “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”
  4. “That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity.  Simple can be harder than complex. You need to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple, but it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
  5. “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”
  6. Remembering that you’re going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.”
  7. “Stay hungry, stay foolish.”
  8. “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”
  9. “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone elses life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
  10. We don’t get a chance to do that many things and every one should be really excellent because this is our life.”

…And, one more thing!

10+.    “You know a design is good when you want to lick it.” … And, “Design is not what it looks like.  Design is how it works.”

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Pittsburgh Gives Today

Here’s a great opportunity for Pittsburgh brands and every day people to do well by doing good!

Today, Tuesday, October 4, is the Pittsburgh Foundation’s “Day of Giving” when online donations ($25 minimum) via the PittsburghGives website can help your favorite charity in western Pennsylvania receive a pro-rated match.

This is a great opportunity to leverage a tax-exempt contribution and increase the level of your support one of your favorite causes. Follow the PittsburghGives simple four-step process.

Donations must be made online TODAY  by 11:59 PM to be eligible. The match pool for 2011 is $725,000 for Pittsburgh Gives and the match pool is $100,000 for Westmoreland Gives.

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Remembering Where You Came From

In marketing circles today, all the rage is about being ‘authentic’ and ‘transparent.’

It’s sad that we even have to discuss the topics such as ‘being real’  because we should all be operating from our core.

A big reason why open and honest relationships for people and brands are tough to engage in, is because so many of us – people and brands – are dishonestly living a fake image of ourselves. Living the ‘ideal’ of other people’s images of you is tough to do – you can never relax. Living anyone else’s ‘ideal’ image of yourself never works – it’s impossible.

However, what is possible, doable, enjoyable and profitable is living your life from your core being – your true north – because when you do,  most everyone else around will strive to do the same.

When Michelangelo was asked how he created David, he supposedly said, “The angel was already in the marble, I simply chipped away the excess.”

Begin today to chip away your excess of what’s covering up your angelic being and slay giants!

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